Baker women fall to MidAmerica Nazarene in HAAC tourney finals
No. 14-ranked MidAmerica Nazarene outlasted No. 13 Baker University for a 79-72 overtime victory to claim the Heart of America Athletic Conference women’s basketball tournament title on Tuesday at the Collins Center.
The Pioneers outscored the Wildcats 15-8 in the extra period to snap the Wildcats’ 17-game winning streak.
Baker University, the tournament’s top seed after winning the regular-season crown for the first time since 1983, dropped to 26-6 overall. The Pioneers, the No. 2 seed, improved to 27-3. Both squads had already secured berths into next week’s NAIA Div. I tournament in Frankfort, Ky.
Sophomore Macy Wallisch’s basket down low on an assist from senior Shea Shoemaker gave Baker a 68-66 advantage in OT. MNU junior Daria Sprew scored on the ensuing possession to ignite a decisive 11-1 run.
Sophomore Megan Balcom scored a team-high 16 points to lead a balanced Pioneer attack. Senior Kelsey Balcom added 14 points. Sprew (12), senior Kendra Flemming (11) and sophomore Kyleesha Weston (11) also scored in double figures.
Wildcat junior Kyrstie Ehm scored a game-high 26 points, including 18 in the first half. She connected on 9 of 15 field goals, including 3 of 6 from three-point range.
With 9.5 seconds left in regulation, Baker sophomore Taylor Chase snared an offensive rebound and was fouled on the put back attempt. She made the second of two free-throw attempts for a 64-all tie. A three-point attempt from the left wing by Pioneer Megan Balcom bounced off the rim, forcing the game into overtime
Baker led 36-32 at halftime. Ehm made two free throws following a technical on the MidAmerica Nazarene bench with 16:48 left to extend Baker’s lead to 46-36. The Pioneers rallied with a 15-1 run as the Wildcats missed five shots and committed two turnovers in an eight-minute spa
With 6:30 left, the MidAmerica Nazarene bench was called for its second technical after arguing a charge call. BriAnna Garza, who finished with 12 points, promptlymade both technical shots to give Baker a 54-53 advantage. The Wildcats never led again in regulation.
In the first half, Baker trailed 27-26 with three minutes left before Ehm swished a pull-up jumper in the lane to ignite a 10-5 closing run for a 36-32 advantage at the break. Rashida Simpson scored all six of her points in the final 2:35 of the half.
During the regular season, the two teams split. Baker lost the first meeting 74-68 before upending the Pioneers 84-72 in Olathe.